Now on our homepage, the editors on the ramifications of the resignation:
Even Benedicts most ardent supporters concede that his papacy has been marred by too many scandals and too many gaffes. The few glimpses the public has gotten into the opaque operations of the Holy Seefrom the Vatican bank controversy to the inept machinations of the popes own butlerreveal an institution in crisis. These intrigues are especially disconcerting as the church still struggles to come to terms with the legacy of the sexual-abuse crisis. Unfortunately, the courtly secrecy surrounding the deliberations to elect the next pope provides an all-too-obvious reminder of the lack of transparency and accountability in the operations of the entire hierarchy.In the modern era, but especially over the past half-century, there has been an unprecedented concentration of authority in the papacy and the Roman curia. Under the tireless and charismatic John Paul II, this focus on the pope seemed providential to many. Yet John Pauls commanding personality left little room for younger episcopal talent to flourish or alternative institutional structures of leadership and authority to develop. Only the most obdurate ultramontanists think the governance of a global church of more than 1 billion should rest principally on the shoulders of one man. In resigning for reasons of ill health and physical frailty, Benedict himself strongly suggested that the demands of the papacy have become a crippling burden, especially for a man of his age. Many think that the papacy is now a crippling burden for a man of any ageand that this is one of the many signs that ecclesial authority has become too centralized.